25 December 2016

***** Selection of Army Chief

Major General P K Mallick,VSM (Retd)

With the announcement of Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, present Vice Chief of Army Staff to be the next Army Chief there has been lot of discussions on this issue as the traditional method of seniority has not been followed by the present Government. Except in two cases the seniority principle has been followed in selecting Independent India’s Chief of the Army.

There is no doubt, that the selection and appointment of Army Chief is the prerogative of the Government. However, due to some very valid reasons seniority is an important criterion for selection. The reasons given by selective leaks from the Government like counter insurgency and counter terrorism, infantry experience etc of Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, the Chief designate have some serious flaws in logic. CV of Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, the senior most officer in the list is well rounded and ideal for Army Chief. There would have been no controversy if Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi was appointed as Army Chief.

It has brought to light some critical issues regarding selection of higher ranks in the Army. Alleged parochialism, talent management, non adherence to laid down policy and merit based selection at the three star level have to be addressed at the Government level. In the absence of some ground rules and quantifiable criterions for selection of Army Chief there is chances of politicizing the appointment of such an important post.

There is absolutely no doubt about the capabilities of the Chief designate Lt Gen Bipin Rawat. Once a decision has been made by the Government of the day, all of us must strengthen the hand of the Chief so that he can guide the great Indian Army to its path of glory in next three years

*** Israel’s Disappearing Act

By George Friedman

Israelis have benefited from not being a main focus in the Middle East. 

Friedman’s Weekly is normally focused on urgent events. This week, I was reminded by the appointment of David Friedman (no relation) as ambassador to Israel how little I think about Israel these days. Given that for most of my life Israel was the central issue in the Middle East and that the Middle East is in chaos, the relative lack of public interest in Israel struck me as important. As significant was the lack of Israel’s active involvement in the region. Hence the title.

Consider Syria. Israel has gone to war with Syria three times, in addition to engaging in casual artillery duels, airstrikes and the rest. Syria has always been a central national security issue for Israel, and the Syrians have regarded Israel as an ongoing threat. Today, a war is raging in Syria that one would think would directly involve Israel. Yet Israel, certainly interested in Syria’s affairs, is not involved. Apart from occasional airstrikes on missiles being brought into Syria by Hezbollah, Israel has avoided involvement, and none of the many antagonists fighting in Syria have had any real interest in Israel. Since 1948, the Arab world has been obsessed with Israel, and Israel has been obsessed with the Arab world. But Israel is letting the fighting in the region run its course. 

** A Sit-Down in Moscow, Undeterred by an Envoy's Murder

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) and Mevlut Cavusoglu, his Turkish counterpart, pay tribute Tuesday to Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey who was murdered by a Turkish police officer the day before. 

Today in Moscow, the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey sat down to discuss the thorny task of how to resolve the civil war in Syria, a conflict in which each country has a decidedly large stake. Hanging over the meetings was the specter of Monday's events in Ankara, where Russia's ambassador to Turkey was gunned down by a Turkish police officer. Given the near-total defeat of Syrian rebels besieged in the key city of Aleppo, a watershed moment in the hostilities, the assassination did not deflect the meetings, underlining the strong desire among the war's most prominent backers to find a path forward in the conflict. Despite the tension among the parties, which each desires to take the course that best suits its ends, Moscow, Tehran and Ankara each realize that none can act unilaterally with any success, given the extent of their involvement in Syria.


By W.R. Alan Dayton

America’s next war will be won or lost first in the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS). It is the invisible, essential, and physical foundation of every battlefield—it unifies all the warfighting domains: land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace. In fact, the EMS is the only physical space shared by every warfighter. A space where energy and information is exchanged rather than bullets and bombs, and a weapon that moves at the speed of light, enabling the joint force to achieve asymmetric advantages against any adversary.

America’s next war will be won or lost first in the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS). It is the invisible, essential, and physical foundation of every battlefield—it unifies all the warfighting domains: land, air, sea, space, and cyberspace.

The EMS exists all around us as radiating energy. It appears in everyday life such as the visible light from your lamp to the radio waves coming from your favorite radio station to the Wi-Fi/Bluetooth signals connecting to your smart phone. America’s ability to conduct warfighting operations in the EMS is not new. U.S. forces have been employing electronic warfare for over 75 years, using the spectrum to sense, outmaneuver, and engage our adversaries.

** The Next Generation of Terror: Swarming, Flying Bomb Robots

In our prior article we argued that while the United States’ overreliance on highly expansive weapon systems, particularly in its fights against terrorists and other violent nonstate actors, is from solely a military perspective the best possible option, from a broader economic, political perspective it is not viable—even self-defeating—in the long term. This argument can, in the wake of recent developments, be extended appropriately to the concept of natural security and the defense of the homeland against threats that would normally fall outside the realm of national military defense, like acts of terrorism of various scale. This article seeks to address the rise of the unmanned terrorism, and seeks to illustrate how exactly this poor man’s solution might prove so effective in challenging the notion of security, and as such the political foundation on which Western societies are largely based.

This is particularly true when it comes to providing security for societies under potential threat by “unmanned terrorism”—unmanned aerial vehicles and, possibly in the near future, other unmanned systems too, used for offensive purposes. That is, UAVs with attached improvised explosive devices or the requisite components for chemical, biological, or radiological action against both soft and hardened targets in Western states. The main problem here is defending against a poor man’s weapon, as the use of IED UAVs is an extremely cheap method of terrorism, capable of inflicting unprecedented fear. The events of 9/11 alone created lasting psychological trauma in Americans. Now we have to consider the psychological impact—the spread of fear—across the United States through potentially dozens or even hundreds of much smaller-scale aerial assaults against the U.S. homeland, from a newly contested U.S. airspace.

* America Is Sharing 'Peaceful' Nuclear Energy with the World. That's Asking for Trouble.

Victor Gilinsky,Henry Sokolski

If civilian nuclear energy provides vital support for nuclear weapons, do we really want to offer a leg up to states overseas?

The new Trump administration will face a world in which the prospect of more countries joining the nuclear weapon ranks is greater than it has been for many years, and there are many signs that the taboos on the use of such weapons are weakening. In these circumstances, it makes sense to rethink our government’s rationale for exporting so-called civilian nuclear technology and for encouraging the worldwide expansion of nuclear energy.

Nuclear energy made its entry on the world stage with a bomb. At first we tried to restrict access to the technology to keep other countries from getting bombs. In 1954 we went to the other extreme under President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace program; we encouraged the spread of nuclear energy technology worldwide with the idea that “peaceful uses” would take countries’ minds off weapons. The underlying security rationale was that “safeguarding” by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors would protect against any attempts to divert nuclear energy facilities and materials to weapons production.

A poorly handled army chief appointment

C. Uday Bhaskar

Seniority is not the sole criterion—but the government could have done better to avoid the current controversy

The appointment of Lt General Bipin Rawat, the current vice-chief, as the next chief of army staff (CoAS) has generated a controversy about the gradual “politicization” of the Indian “fauj”. The fact that seniority has been overlooked and two other officers senior to the CoAS designate (Lt Generals Praveen Bakshi and P.M. Hariz) have been bypassed is the trigger for the controversy. The public commentary is taking on a contour that is both undesirable and misleading in its binary reduction by way of seeking to either castigate the Narendra Modi government or exonerate it.

At the outset is the cardinal principle of robust democracies that the military remains subordinate—but not subservient or unctuous—to the prevailing political dispensation of the nation. The civil-military relationship is distinctive to each country and has a non-linear linkage to the strategic culture associated with the national ethos and the status accorded to the military in the lattice of governance.

Anatomy of an Accident: Why INS Betwa Tipped Over

By Abhijit Singh

How did a 4,000 ton Indian warship tip over while undocking? 

India’s maritime woes are manifesting in multiple ways. In an unprecedented accident earlier this week, an Indian naval warship, the INS Betwa, slipped off her dock-blocks in a ship repair facility in Mumbai, suffering extensive damage. A Brahmaputra-class guided missile warship, the Betwa was in the process of undocking when the unfortunate incident occurred, killing two sailors and injuring another 15.

It is crushingly embarrassing for the navy and the Western Naval Command to face the ignominy of a 4,000-ton warship turning turtle in a dry dock. The fact that the mishap is only the latest in a long list of serious accidents involving Indian naval ships and submarines is an unsettling truth that naval commanders are finding hard to come to terms with.

South Asia’s Changing Landscape in 2016

By Harsh V. Pant

The year 2016 has been a year of dramatic changes which are only likely to gain further momentum in the coming years. 

The year 2016 will be long remembered in India for the dramatic decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to nullify all 500 and 1,000 rupee banknotes, the most common currency denominations in the country, and then eventually replace them with newly designed, more secure 500 and 2,000 rupee notes. This demonetization scheme is perhaps one of the most far-reaching policy decisions taken by any Indian government in recent times. The nation is still struggling to come to terms with it and it will have significant long-term implications for India’s economic growth trajectory.

In many ways, 2016 was the year when Modi, the economic reformer, got his groove back. His government managed to pass the landmark Goods and Services Tax bill through parliament. By levying one indirect tax for the whole nation, it will make India one unified common market. It is the biggest reform in India’s indirect tax structure since the economy started opening up 25 years ago and is likely to be implemented in 2017.

Details emerge about requirement for China's new strategic bomber

Impression of China's new strategic bomber, according to China Military Online. Source: Via China Military Online

An article published by the China Military Online website on 7 December has provided further insights into the requirements for China's new strategic bomber.

Remarks made in the media report by Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo, director of the People's Liberation Army Navy's Expert Consultation Committee, followed on from the confirmation given on 1 September by General Ma Xiaotian, Commander of the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), that China is developing a new long-range strategic bomber referred to in the article as the H-20.

While Gen Ma gave no details of the programme, R Adm Yin, who is also a regular media commentator on Chinese military developments, commented that as the "cruise missiles, nuclear weapons, and other weapons and equipment that will be carried by domestic strategic bombers are all in place", the time was right for China to develop a new strategic bomber.

Japan Approves Modest Defense Budget Hike

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The defense budget approved by Japan’s cabinet will see a moderate 1.4 percent increase from the previous year. 

The cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved a modest increase in defense spending for the next fiscal year starting April 1, 2017, The Japan Times reports. It is the fifth consecutive time that the Japan’s defense budget has increased since Shinzo Abe has taken office in 2012. The budget is expected to be approved by the National Diet early next year.

Total defense expenditure for Fiscal Year 2017 will be ¥5.13 trillion ($43.5 billion), a 1.4 percent nominal increase from the previous year’s ¥5.05 trillion ($41.4 billion). The defense budget represents five percent of overall government expenditure and less than one percent of Japan’s gross domestic product.

The slight increase is defense expenditure is largely driven by China’s growing maritime assertiveness in the East China Sea and North Korea’s ballistic missile program. “The security environment surrounding Japan is becoming ever more severe,” Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said in a press conference on December 20.

Don’t fight sober

Mike Jay 

In October 2013 a Time magazine article entitled ‘Syria’s Breaking Bad’ alerted Western media to the prevalence across the region of a little-known stimulant drug, Captagon. Lebanese police had found five million locally produced tablets, embossed with a roughly stamped yin-yang symbol, sealed inside a Syrian-made water heater in transit to Dubai. In October 2015 Captagon made global headlines when the Saudi prince Abdel Mohsen was intercepted at Beirut airport with 32 shrink-wrapped boxes and eight leather suitcases containing two tons of top-grade pills, valued at £190 million. By this time rumours abounded on all sides in the Syrian war that Captagon was fuelling a grim cult of battlefield atrocities. An investigation by Vanity Fair in France last April uncovered a trail of testimonies and video images of pumped-up soldiers and ‘zombies roaming, all smiles, across fields of ruins and severed heads’. Caches of pills in ports and abandoned villages supplied the evidence.

On 13 November 2015, when terrorists massacred ninety people at the Bataclan in Paris, Captagon was immediately suspected. To Professor Jean-Pol Tassin, an addiction specialist at Inserm, the National Institute for Health and Medical Research, the killers’ ‘empty expressions, their determination, their mechanical movements’ all suggested that an amphetamine-type stimulant was involved. Dozens of articles profiled ‘la drogue des djihadistes’, explaining that Captagon replaced fear, doubt and fellow feeling with superhuman confidence, an implacable sense of mission and visions of imminent awakening in paradise. Yet two months later, when the forensic reports on the assailants were released, it was clear that no trace of Captagon had been found. Asked about his snap judgment, Tassin was philosophical: ‘It’s true, it was reassuring to think they had taken drugs, that they weren’t fully conscious of the massacre they were committing. No doubt that’s why one subscribes so rapidly to such theories.’

Fancy Bear Hack of Ukrainian Artillery Fighters Shows Future of War

Hackers believed to be working for the Russian military were able to track the position of Ukrainian fighters thanks to a booby-trapped Android app originally used to improve the aim and accuracy of Ukraine’s own artillery units, according to a new report.

CrowdStrike, the security firm that also accused Russia of being behind the hack on the Democratic National Committee earlier this year, found that the same group was behind a more daring, and potentially deadly, hacking operation in Ukraine. The hackers, who are known as Fancy Bear or APT28, altered a legitimate app used by Ukrainian troops called Попр-Д30 (an abbreviation of Поправки-Д30, which translates to Correction-D30), slipping their own malware inside of it, according to CrowdStrike, which released its findings on Thursday.

The Android app was reportedly created by Yaroslav Sherstuk, an officer of the 55th Artillery Brigade in Ukraine. Fancy Bear trojanized the app with an Android version of X-Agent, a type of malware exclusively used by Fancy Bear in the past. For two years, as Ukrainian fighters relied on the app for their daily operations, the Russians were secretly turning the app against them, according to CrowdStrike.

What It Took to Kill Nazi Germany's Super Battleship Bismarck Is Truly Astounding

Kyle Mizokami

On May 23, 1941, the Battleship Bismarck was on a roll. The largest and most powerful ship in the German Navy, the mighty Bismarck had broken out into the Atlantic Ocean, sunk a Royal Navy battlecruiser, badly damaged a battleship and was poised to add its guns to a naval blockade that threatened to strangle Great Britain.

Ninety-six hours later, heavily damaged, the battleship was on the bottom of the North Atlantic. Bismarck’s swift reversal of fortune was the result of a heroic effort by the Royal Navy to hunt down and destroy the battlewagon, and avenge the more than 1,400 Royal Navy personnel killed in the Denmark Strait.

The German battleship Bismarck was the the pride of the Kriegsmarine, Nazi Germany’s naval service. Construction began in 1936, and the ship was commissioned in April 1940. It and its sister ship, Tirpitz, were 821 feet long and displaced fifty thousand tons, making them by far the largest warships ever built by Germany. Despite its size, twelve Wagner steam boilers made it capable of a fast thirty knots.

Ukrainian Power Company ‘99% Certain’ Blackout Result of Cyber Attack


Russia is escalating cyber and ground attacks against Ukraine, observers say. 

As Russia seizes the stage, the lights are going out in Ukraine. On Sunday morning around midnight a major blackout struck the power substation in Novi Petrivtsi, a village near Kiev, disrupting power to between 100,000 and 200,000 people. Vsevolod Kovalchuk, acting director of Ukrenergo power company, said that the company was able to get the service restored relatively easily, within an hour and fifteen minutes. He told Defense One he was “99 percent” certain a deliberate attack caused the blackout.

Sunday night’s power outage echoes one that occurred roughly a year ago, affecting more than 225,000 people Ukraine. A shadowy Pro-Russian group called Sandworm emerged as the most likely culprit. 

“On December 18, 2016, a transmission substation serving the Ukrainian capital de-energized, leaving roughly one-fifth of Kiev without power. Official company communication listed ‘hacking’ and ‘equipment failure’ as possible causes. While details are still sparse, the improbability of the simultaneous loss of three transmission lines lead us to assess with low confidence that a cyber attack was the root cause,” said FireEye’s Sean McBride, who added, “Nevertheless, we note significant dissimilarities between this and the 2015 outages.”

To become a cashless economy, India must reach out to those at the bottom of the digital divide

By Kris Gopalakrishnan

Harvard University’s Kennedy School published a working paper by Peter Sands in February 2016, ‘Making it Harder for the Bad Guys: The Case for Eliminating High Denomination Notes’ (goo.gl/Vqr9Ev). It posited that eliminating ¤500, $100, CHF1,000 and £50 notes would make the ‘bad guys’ face higher costs and higher risks of detection. Sands said that one of the reasons demonetisation is easier to implement today is the accessibility and costeffectiveness of digital payment alternatives.

Post-demonetisation in India, we have witnessed ministers, bureaucrats and RBI officials exhort citizens to adopt digital payments. The government has set up a committee of chief ministers to identify best practices to promote an economy based on digital payments, and provide a roadmap for implementation. GoI has roped in Nandan Nilekani as its digital adviser in this effort.

It is important to assess and debate how we can quickly move from a predominantly cash-based economy to one where digital payments predominate. Bhaskar Chakravorti, Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi and Benjamin Mazzotta of Fletcher School, Tufts University, assessed the Indian context in a May 2016 Harvard Business Review paper, ‘The Countries That Would Profit Most From a Cashless World’ (goo.gl/y79sQQ).

Demonetisation effect: As tourists stay away, note ban puts 50 million livelihoods at risk

By Mukta Patil

Anjuna (Goa): Raju Lakhani’s beachside restaurant here at this popular tourist strip in north Goa should have been packed this time of the year. But the tables at Moon Star are empty, and the restaurateur is a worried man.

“We have no customers,” he said. “Almost 90 percent of tourists are leaving because of the inconvenience caused by demonetisation.”

Lakhani said he now has no choice but to lay off workers. He is one of Goa’s many restaurant owners who are feeling the brunt of what is referred to as notebandi — the colloquial term for the ban on India’s Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, 86 percent by value of all bank notes.

At 2.8 percent, the travel and tourism sector in India grew faster last year than it did worldwide (2.3 percent). It contributed to 6.3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP)–including direct, indirect and induced contributions — and translated to Rs 8.3 lakh crore in 2015, according to this 2016 report by the World Trade And Tourism Council (WTTC), a forum for the travel and tourism industry.



One of the critical problems with much of the writing on strategic subjects is a failure to define the terms being used in a clear and universally applicable manner. When we fail to explain what we mean when we use terms such as “limited war” or “total war,” we build in a potentially fatal underpinning for the formulation of policy and strategy. This error also robs the discussion of any firm ground for critical analysis. Moreover, if we don’t understand what we mean by “limited war,” we don’t understand what we mean when we describe any war. Shoddy thinking lays a foundation for defeat.

The fuzziness of our approach to defining limited war can be seen even in classic texts on the subject. In 1981, John Garnett, one of the founders of modern strategic studies, wrote: “Only conflicts which contain the potentiality for becoming total can be described as limited.” Diplomat Robert McClintock wrote in 1967: “Limited war is a conflict short of general war to achieve specific political objectives, using limited forces and limited force.” Both of these typical definitions explain limited war in relation to other types of conflict (“total war” and “general war”) that also lack clear, generally agreed upon definitions. In his classic 1957 work, the best-known theorist of limited war, political scientist Robert Osgood, defined this kind of conflict in terms of the objective sought and (among other things) by the fact that the combatants “do not demand the utmost military effort of which the belligerents are capable.” This description is nebulous at best and fails to offer a firm and usable explanation of “effort,” or what some would term the means used. The definitions haven’t improved with the passing decades. A 2010 book noted:

Who Will Fight America’s Wars?

Kevin Knodell

When president-elect Donald Trump takes office in January 2017 he will inherit a military conducting world-wide operations.

There’s the ongoing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria with U.S. troops on the ground. There are quieter U.S. operations in places like Somalia and Yemen. On top of that, the U.S. military continues to guard the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea, patrol the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, man outposts in Europe and much more.

During his election campaign and after his victory in November 2016, the president-elect promised to increase the size of the U.S. military to meet commitments, as well as invest lavishly on new weapons systems.

However, finding people to join this endeavor could pose a challenge. While Americans are by and large enthusiastic about their country battling terrorists overseas, most take for granted that someone else will do the actual fighting.

Russia's Military Still has a Long Way to go Before it Catches up to America

Dave Majumdar

The photo above—taken on December 15—is emblematic of the problems the Russian Air Force faces as it continues to rebuild its strength twenty-five years after the fall of the Soviet Union. While the Russian Air Force has received a lot of much-needed new equipment, such as the Sukhoi Su-30SM Flanker-H, the Su-34 Fullback and the Su-35S Flanker-E, the service is still challenged by a lack of trained personnel. Particularly, experienced pilots are in short supply.

“We have a serious problem with experienced pilots,” a Russian source told me.

While in recent years the Pentagon has faced training challenges as a result of budgetary turbulence—the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps aviators are simply not receiving the number of flying hours they once used to—Russia’s problems are far greater. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, funding for the once mighty Soviet military machine collapsed during the 1990s. Post-Soviet Russia, suffering from an economic and social meltdown, essentially ceased modernizing its forces or training its troops during those troubled times.

The Death of Human Intelligence: How Human Intelligence has been Minimized since the 1960s

By Bradley A Lewis for Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)

Over the past fifty years, the United States has periodically tried to end the practice of human intelligence (HUMINT) gathering. That’s wrongheaded, says Bradley Lewis, especially since the hostility towards this “unsavory” form of tradecraft is largely attributable to political factors that have little to do with winning or losing.

Since the beginning of time, the collection of human intelligence (HUMINT) has been the cornerstone of gaining an advantage over one’s enemies. Over the past fifty years, the United States, under three particular administrations, has tried to end the process of HUMINT collection. HUMINT has always been associated with tradecraft and the necessity to work with unsavory characters. The information gleaned from these characters, however, has proven both vital and important in terms of defending against a threat as well as pursuing an objective. The derision expressed toward the methods of collection and those involved in the process has gone from a clandestine operation to front-page headlines. This image has been changed by political factors not associated with winning or losing.


Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to ask a special prosecutor to investigate for possible criminal prosecution Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives who interrogated terrorists in overseas locations is the latest and most egregious instance of political gamesmanship by Holder, who strode into office promising to remove the taint of politicization from the Justice Department.1

How to make sense of 2016

FOR a certain kind of liberal, 2016 stands as a rebuke. If you believe, as The Economist does, in open economies and open societies, where the free exchange of goods, capital, people and ideas is encouraged and where universal freedoms are protected from state abuse by the rule of law, then this has been a year of setbacks. Not just over Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, but also the tragedy of Syria, abandoned to its suffering, and widespread support—in Hungary, Poland and beyond—for “illiberal democracy”. As globalisation has become a slur, nationalism, and even authoritarianism, have flourished. In Turkey relief at the failure of a coup was overtaken by savage (and popular) reprisals. In the Philippines voters chose a president who not only deployed death squads but bragged about pulling the trigger. All the while Russia, which hacked Western democracy, and China, which just last week set out to taunt America by seizing one of its maritime drones, insist liberalism is merely a cover for Western expansion. 

Faced with this litany, many liberals (of the free-market sort) have lost their nerve. Some have written epitaphs for the liberal order and issued warnings about the threat to democracy. Others argue that, with a timid tweak to immigration law or an extra tariff, life will simply return to normal. That is not good enough. The bitter harvest of 2016 has not suddenly destroyed liberalism’s claim to be the best way to confer dignity and bring about prosperity and equity. Rather than ducking the struggle of ideas, liberals should relish it.

Critical security predictions for 2017

Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, and in 2016, some overarching themes in computing were the Cloud, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI). These technologies are changing the way we live and work. They provide us ubiquitous access to family and friends, our jobs, our favourite brands and services, and so much more.

While there is limitless potential for how humanity can excel by using these technologies, they have negative implications as well. For example:

Cloud: The cloud empowers both large enterprises and SMBs by streamlining IT organisations and reducing budgets via outsourcing key infrastructure and services. While there are many positives, the cloud has also fundamentally changed how we must interact with, and secure, our networking services. In a nutshell, we have to place our trust in someone else.

IoT: Now, every device from our refrigerators, home heating systems, and smart watches, can connect to the Internet and the Cloud. IoT comes with countless positives; it powers smart home automation, can revolutionise manufacturing, and will improve medical care. However, it also exponentially increases the connected attack surface and resources available to bad guys.

The Age of Selfie Jihad: How Evolving Media Technology is Changing Terrorism

By Jason Burke 

Extremists have sought to exploit the latest media technology to instill fear in target populations and elicit support from sympathetic audiences. In order to aid their recruitment, they adapt their tactics and strategy and structure their organizations accordingly. Recent rapid technological change that allows terrorists to reach a large audience quickly and directly has enabled them to achieve their messaging goals without launching large-scale attacks that demand significant physical infrastructure. Increasingly, thanks in part to the digital revolution, they can rely on what the Syrian jihadi strategist Abu Musab al-Suri called “individual terrorism.” With the Islamic State losing territory and the al-Qa`ida network increasingly decentralized, individuals and small autonomous cells may increasingly take the initiative in both the murderous and messaging dimensions of terrorism.

At around 9:00 PM on the evening of June 13 this year, a 25-year-old French extremist and petty criminal named Larossi Abballa killed Jean-Baptiste Salvaing, a senior local police official, in the latter’s home in a residential neighborhood of Magnanville, a small town northwest of Paris. Larossi stabbed Salvaing seven times with a large knife. He used the same weapon to kill the dead policeman’s wife. Leaving the couple’s three-year-old son unharmed, Larossi then turned to his smartphone.1a

Using Facebook’s new live stream application, Facebook Live, the food delivery man broadcasted a rambling speech in Arabic and French that lasted 12 minutes. He spoke of his motives for the attack; pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi; called for further attacks in France against a range of targets, including prominent rappers, journalists, and politicians; and told those watching he was unsure of what to do with the traumatized child sitting a meter or so away from him.2

Briefing Notes From Visit to NSA

A few weeks ago, I was part of a “National Thought Leaders” visit to the National Security Agency. Famously secretive and opaque (see, No Such Agency), the NSA started conducting this type of outreach after the Snowden disclosures in an attempt to correct what it saw as misunderstandings about its surveillance and intelligence roles. The day consisted of briefings from high level officials involved in NSA operations, information assurance, legal authorities, industry partnerships, and privacy and civil liberties oversight. We also spoke with Cyber Command officials. The briefings were conducted according to Chatham House rules, and below are some of my takeaways, unattributed to any one official. 

Loud cyber weapons. A senior official confirmed that sometimes Cyber Command wants an adversary to know it has conducted an operation and so in some instances it embeds the equivalent of “from U.S. Cyber Command” in the code. As Chris Bing reported in September, Cyber Command officials have been publicly discussing the need for capabilities that may help with attribution and deterrence and are distinct from NSA’s, which wants to remain ultra-stealthy. Unfortunately, there was no time to raise some of Herb Lin‘s excellent questions about how a loud cyber weapon might operate. 

Why Do We Fall For Fake News?

by S. Shyam Sundar

In recent weeks, the amount of online fake news that circulated during the final months of the presidential race is coming to light, a disturbing revelation that threatens to undermine the country’s democratic process. We’re already seeing some real-world consequences. After fake news stories implicated a Washington, D.C. pizza shop as the site of a Clinton-coordinated child sex ring, a man wielding an AR-15 assault rifle entered the store on Dec. 4 to “investigate" and fired shots.

But fake news wouldn’t be a problem if people didn’t fall for it and share it. Unless we understand the psychology of online news consumption, we won’t be able to find a cure for what The New York Times calls a “digital virus."

Some have said that confirmation bias is the root of the problem - the idea that we selectively seek out information that confirms our beliefs, truth be damned. But this doesn’t explain why we fall for fake news about nonpartisan issues.

A more plausible explanation is our relative inattention to the credibility of the news source. I’ve been studying the psychology of online news consumption for over two decades, and one striking finding across several experiments is that online news readers don’t seem to really care about the importance of journalistic sourcing - what we in academia refer to as “professional gatekeeping." This laissez-faire attitude, together with the difficulty of discerning online news sources, is at the root of why so many believe fake news.
Do people even consider news editors credible?